Adios' Amiga!

My daughter, Cate, and her best friend, Lexis are upstairs squealing nonsense chatter as they play. I have NO idea what the HELL they are saying or doing. It makes no sense to me, but after all, they are only 7 and 5. It makes perfect sense to them. Everything and anything is possible for them and unfortunately that includes their impending separation. Lexis is moving.

This particular friendship has been the vehicle for tremendous growth for my girl, who is challenged every day to find meaningful ways to communicate with others. At the age of 4 when other children were becoming more independent and physically strong, my girl was still in diapers. Lexis came into her life at a time when they both desperately needed each other. They spent the first year playing side by side in silence. The two year difference between the girls was insignificant due to Cate's developmental delays. These tiny, diaper clad, petite blondes were like twins, sharing spiritual space.

This morning we made friendship stones together. I thought it would be a nice, concrete (get it?) way for the girls to celebrate their friendship, create a memory and have something to remember each other by. The giggled and slopped around in the plaster, shoving each other to the side, arguing over the plastic jewels. Typical.

As always, the best plans are sometimes modified based on circumstances. The girls can't really conceptualize the reality of life without each other. 400 miles and 7 hours are just abstract terms, not processed by these giggling, glittery, girly girls. They quickly tired of the craft and rushed off to fantasy land, their hands crusted in plaster, the jewels meant for the friendship stone going with them to be used as "treasure" for their Littlest Pet Shop.

Kids experience life so intensely all the time. Breaking a favorite toy can be considered the WORST thing that has ever happened! A day at the amusement park or a birthday party has the potential to be the best day ever. Friendships between young children as often fleeting, as they are growing and changing so fast. Hot/cold, on and off as tempers flare and their little minds learn the rules of socialization from each other. Mom as referee is par for the course in the early years.

It is often said that friends leave footprints in our hearts and that we are never the same. It's also true that some relationships leave scars. As my daughter grows, I know she will experience both sides of the friendship coin. She will teach others and learn from them.

I don't know how much, if anything, Cate and Lexis will remember about each other. I do know that they don't realize what they have been to each other, and how this friendship has shaped their personalities. It has also set an example for what frienship should be like. As a parent, I could not have asked for a better introduction to relationships for my girl than this experience with little Lexis.

I will never forget how this miracle changed them and me forever. This experience gave me hope for my daughter's future at a time when I was fearful that her limitations would prevent her from experiencing the most precious gift in life; friendship.

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  • "Cate's developmental delays"

    This part here especially caught my attention. My son has Aspergers. I wish I could help him to find a connection in a friend as your daughter did. It's hard trying to get him to connect with anyone. My son was still in diapers at the age of 4 as well. He was in pull ups at the age of 5, so I couldn't get him in to Kindergarten until the next year. It works for him, however, because the kid's in his class are all a year younger than him, so it's a little easier for him to connect, but still has a hard time.

    With my son's condition, he's been unable to really stay at any particular school for any extended amount of time. Either the teachers can't handle him and want to hand him off to someone else or they hand him off thinking he's further in development than what the rest of the class is (the special education/resource classes - whatever the hell the politically correct term is now). It's frustrating because even if he could make a connection to another child, they don't let him stay long enough for that connection to really mean anything.

    So, I can kind of say I know how you are feeling. Not entirely because my son hasn't ever been that close to anyone, but slightly because he has made friends before they moved him again and again.

  • Beautifully written, Nikki.

  • In reply to fromthebungalow:

    I should mention my connection with this post. My oldest little guy is 7 and still in Goodnites. I have to buy Goodnites because they don't make Pull-Ups big enough. He means the world to me, and it breaks my heart that he isn't able to establish close friendships. Of course, he has no speech, so that doesn't help, but his ability to relate to others is also lacking. He'll be enrolled in a leisure skills class for kids like him while he's with his mom during the summer, and I'm hopeful he'll learn and grow from that. I'll miss my boys during the summer, but I'm grateful for the attention they'll be able to get from mom (a teacher) for a couple of months. I'm also grateful they're not girls and I don't have to listen to incoherent squealing.

  • In reply to fromthebungalow:

    My daughter has SID/social anxiety, friendship and peer relationships are very difficult for her. She's now nine. When she was younger, she was shy but it wasn't so bad.

    The older she gets, the cliquier girls get, the harder it becomes. Still, she's fortunate to have two very close friends, and a few more acquaintances.

    What makes me sad is that her two best friends are people I've forced upon her in a way. I dealt with the parents so much, pushed the playdates and did everything I could to get her social interaction. She's now at an age, where friendships aren't formed by parents as much as the kids themselves.

    She still has her friends, but hasn't yet come home asking me if she can go over to anyone new's house. I know at recess she commonly plays by herself. There isn't much I can do about it, but I hope she's able to pull out of it.

    Anyway, long winded intro aside, she has a third very close friend who moved away a year and a half ago. It doesn't happen often, but probably once every two or three months I catch her crying alone in her room that her friend Carlie moved away. It can be rough on kids to lose friends, especially those that struggle making them.

    Best of luck to you and your daughter.

  • In reply to fromthebungalow:

    Nicki, thanks for sharing such a nice piece. Our family has been lucky enough to be on the other side of the issue of having a child with special challenges. My husband has been a special ed. aide for the past few years, and my eighth grade son spent the last period of every day helping the kids in the "special" classroom prepare their backpacks for the end of the day, do some reading, etc. (he loved it, by the way). Even now he is teaching swimming lessons and his favorite student is the one with Down Syndrome.

    There are nice kids out there and there are kids who are jerks out there. I hope all of your children have more interactions with the former than the latter. Best to all of you!

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